Friday, 7 June 2019

How I was poisoned by unknown

My ears picked up the sound of the alarm clock on my phone. I felt betrayed. Why in God’s name would my ears have done that- distracting me from a wonderful experience I was having in dream land?
I am one of those lovers of food. We seemed to have a special connection- food and I. I would eat at any opportunity even to the point of eating in my dreams. And that was what I was doing before my betrayer of an alarm messed up the whole thing.
Maybe I should give you a glimpse of the dream I was having. I found myself seated before a delightful looking egusi soup and pounded yam in an exquisitely furnished restaurant. The aroma of the food wafted into my nostrils. Such aroma could bring a dead man back to life. I had just murmured a very short prayer with my eyes open and my mouth salivating and very ready to begin the business of leveling the mountain before me and then, this annoying alarm rang, and my ears that would not stay put in its environment decided to pick up the sound from outside the dream land.
I turned to my left hand side with the plan to put the alarm to snooze mode, and almost immediately, I remembered that I was supposed to be at the office by 7:30AM. I frowned at the screen of my phone, I reached for my singlet to wear and then whispered some prayers before going to the bathroom for clean up.
Moments later, I was standing at my junction to wave down a bike. A young Hausa fellow stopped in front of me, after negotiating the fare, I boarded to my office. This day better be a good one, I thought as I looked at my wrist watch. It was 7:15AM. I hated near success syndrome. I was near eating such a delicious meal which I had not had for a long while because I simply could not afford it, and then I awoke. Almost but without it. That was bad.
Just as soon as I got down from the bike after reaching my destination and paying the bike man, as I was just turning, I felt my legs wet. An arrogant and terribly annoying person driving and blasting music loudly had just splashed me muddy water. And he did not even stop. I felt like having combined super human powers of Flash and Superman (Clark Kent), to go after him and pull him out of his car and punch him severally and then drag him out and soak him in the mud.
I pulled out my handkerchief, wiped off some of the mud water and then headed to the office to register and also use the rest room to do more wiping. Just as I was about to walk in, something semi solid fell on my white shirt.
What?, I groaned. A bird’s feaces? I turned my face up and the bird was busy singing away as it flew. I cursed under my breath, what is all these? Are these series of unfortunate events? Starting from the uncompleted dream, to the splashing of mud on my trouser and then a bird’s feaces on my shirt?
I spent some time in the bathroom to clean myself, after I had registered my name. As if these events that have produced the feeling of anger in me had not had enough, another one happened.
My boss just walked in. He was dressed in a black suit with a bow tie. I wondered why he had to put on a bow tie on such a hot morning (the sun had risen with an early morning heat. Was he planning on choking himself?). Looking at him, you would kniw that he has a thing for corporate dressing.
He nodded to everyone’s greeting except mine, rather he had a frown on his face. I wondered why. Maybe, it was my shirt. I had tried wiping off the stain from the bird’s faeces but it had left some stains- a more wider one with lesser intensity.
“Some officials will be coming from the Department of Statistics of the Ministry of Finance and you will be giving them a little talk since you assist Mr. Olu, the head of statistics unit”, he said.
“But sir, I am not…”
“Prepared?”, he cut in. “I would have informed you earlier?”
I stared at him
“I was not prepared too. I was just informed this morning. So get yourself ready, and put on something good. They will be here by 11AM”.
He turned and left. My heart began to pound. I was more of a side line person not a front line kind. I would prefer to sit and hear others give addresses than to be the one doing that. Though, I knew that I am an intelligent person but my shyness was something else.
I was not liking how today was going so far. Now, my boss seemed to have set me up for an address even though I was an assistant head to statistics unit.
Why under God’s good heavens did Oga Olu, our head of the unit did not come to work today? Missing work on Monday, of all days? Who does that for crying out loud? I didn’t even ask my boss why Oga Olu (as we under his unit usually call him) was not at work. I dialled his number but it was off. I hope he is alright, I asked myself.
I rushed home to do something about my dressing. I had done my washing but was yet to iron my shirts and trousers. Of course, it was NEPA that was behind that. NEPA would always be NEPA even if they change their name to PHCN. As I got home, they had not brought the light.
I decided to wait for some time in case they restore the power, after which I thought I should get two shirts and trousers to the dry cleaner across the street to work on instead.
We greeted and I explained to him the urgent need to iron the clothes. He said he understood and would start with mine as soon as he finished the one he was ironing for the customer waiting for him at the shop.
So, I decided to go home, do some reading and freshen up for the speech or address. I wouldn’t want to go out there and be talking rubbish. My boss would kill me if I do that and it would deal badly with my chance of getting the promotion I had been hoping for.
Moments later, I went to the dry cleaners shop and there I experienced another unfortunate situation. Oh Lord, what’s happening today? My forehead squeezed out thick drops of sweat.
I dialed the dry cleaner’s number which was written on the wall of his shop, it rang and he did not pick. I tried again and again, each ringing but he was not picking. I was getting frustrated. It was around 10:30AM.
A call came in, it was from Alex. Alex is one of my colleagues at the office. In fact, he was my closest guy, my paddy.
“Guy, where you dey?”, he asked with an anger in his voice.
“I go change my clothes. You know say the other one stain. The dry cleaner wey I give my shirts and trousers to iron no dey”
“I no understand. Wetin you mean say him no dey?”
“I dey the yeye guy shop now. I been explain give am say I need the clothes sharp o. Him say him go do am sharp. Now, I dey for the front of him shop, him shop close and him no dey pick my calls”
He sighed, “Guy do quick. The guests don show and Oga dey ask of you. The man just dey frown give our unit members”
He hung up. I went to ask the lady at the neighboring shop if she knew when the dry cleaner went to or if he left some ironed clothes with her, she said she didn’t know where he went to and that he didn’t leave any clothes with him.
I was getting tensed up. I was angry and frustrated. Angry at the dry cleaner, angry at the foolish arrogant fellow that splashed muddy water on me, angry at the bike man for stopping me at the other side of the road, angry at that good for nothing bird that defaecated on my shirt, angry at Oga Olu for missing work today, angry at the ever slothful NEPA, angry at myself too.
My phone was ringing. I looked at the caller I.D, it was Oga Morris, my boss. My hands trembled. I was debating intensely within me whether to pick the call or not. The ringing stopped. It started again. I didn’t pick.
It was now 11AM and this annoying dry cleaner was no where to be seen and still, he was not picking my calls. If I was not mistakened, I must have called him close to fourthy times. I even asked of his residential address but none said they knew his place.
A text came into my phone. I opened to see it, it was from my boss. Where are you?, was the message. It was now 11:15AM.
As I stared at the screen, a bike stopped suddenly in front of me. That got me annoyed. What was that? Why would one drive so rough and of places to stop, he chose to stop in front of me?
As I raised my head, guess who it was. The dry cleaner guy. He didn’t even act as if he took notice of me. He went forward, unlocked his shop, brought out my clothes and handed them over to me.
“Sorry”, he said.
I wanted to strangle him. I wanted to yell at him at the top of my voice. I wanted to deal with him but I did none of this. I was evidently angry at him but when I saw his eyes with tears every atom of anger I had left.
“Oga wetin happen?”
“Bros, no vex. Abeg, no vex. My wife dey labor since two days now and dem been call me for hospital say make I come sharp sharp say the thing don tough”
I felt bad for him but I needed to go. I was still feeling sorry for him but I was already so late. What pain would make a grown up man shed tears publicly before a stranger? I told him sorry and handed his money to him but he refused collecting it. He said I shouldn’t bother that he was the one who was at fault for keeping me waiting. I had no time to insist that he took the money.
So, I went into his shop and got dressed fast and took a bike to my house to put on my shoes and get my bag and headed on the same bike to the office. By the time, I got to the office, it was already 11:45AM with the useless hold up and some uniformed men asking bike men and drivers of papers.
My boss saw me and ignored me. His face was so folded. Anger sat visibly on it and his eyes looked fiery and red to me. I couldn’t look at him or speak.
What happening today, I asked myself again. Am I going to lose my job? Will I survive today?

I couldn’t look at his face. It was as though his eyes were shooting arrows at me. It was few seconds but it seemed as though the time stood still and the moment dragged.
I knew he had every right to be angry. First, he had informed me and yet I had not acted appropriately. Second, I came in late, and in between, even when he called, I did not pick his calls, neither did I reply his text message. Even if I had missed his calls as I did, I was supposed to call back but I did not.
He seemed to be busy because he did not stop to call me into his office and scold me, which was his usual manner of handling such things. This was one of the things I liked about my boss, he never scolds one publicly. He would do that behind the door of his office. It was one of his ways of respecting his staff.
Alex walked up to me, “Guy, you mess up. Na wetin?”
I wiped off the sweat on my forehead with my handkerchief, “Na long story. How the thing come waka?”
“Boss delegate me to talk. Na God help me, I for really scatter the show. You know say I no even prepare. Na after him call you wey you no pick, na him he say make I cover for you. He come give me areas to talk on”
“No vex abeg. How far? Oga dey really vex for me abi? Hope him no go do something drastic about this matter?”
“Cool down. No worry. Nothing like that go happen. He wan see you?”
“He no even talk give me. I know say him dey vex, though he dey as if he still busy. I go go see am. Though I need to first send am text message to apologize. Make that one go ahead first”
“No p. Make we enter our office”
Alex was my paddy. Unlike me, he had this ability of staying calm in a tough situation and of saying words to calm one down. Just talking with him helped me.
The cold air from the air conditioner was a relief. As I sat, I was mentally preparing myself on how to talk with my boss. I imagined standing before him(that is if he did not ask me to sit), and apologizing and explaining myself.
My boss was not one that listens only to an apology, he would also ask to know what happened. It seemed he liked stories, to know what really happened.
Few moments after my text message to my boss was reported delivered, his came in: “Come to my office”. My mind skipped despite all my mental preparation to explain myself properly.
“Good day sir”, I greeted as I stepped into his office.
” You disappointed me”, he started with his eyes fixed on me. He was not looking angry. “You must have a good explanation for that”, he continued. Then paused. “You will be traveling with me tomorrow morning. You will tell me exactly why you came in late”
“I am sorry sir. If I may ask, where are we going to?”
“See you tomorrow Omafe. Be at the office by 6:30AM. You will be driving me”
“Alright sir”, I replied. I wished he had told me where we were going to, and also, the purpose of the journey. It would have helped me have an idea of what to need for the journey. But at that moment, I felt it was not wise for me to insist on knowing where we were to travel to.
Moreover, he did not react angrily despite the fact that I offended him. I would not want to use my curiosity to annoy him further. So, I left his office as soon as he dismissed me. It was evident that he was still busy.
Mr. Morris, my boss was a man in his early fifty but looking at him, you would think he was in his mid forties. He was the one who helped me get the job even though I was not as qualified as the others but he said I had potentials and I was intelligent. So, from the start, I had always regarded him with utmost respect, to the point that I would often feel terribly bad whenever I hurt him. He was like a father figure.
After work, I decided to stop at Mama Aki’s shop to eat since I was feeling famished. I had not eaten since morning. Mama Aki was my food customer. As a young unmarried guy just like my other team single guys members, I also had a particular spot where I eat regularly whenever I didn’t cook at home. Mama Aki’s place was mine.
For sometime, I and some other guys had been disturbing her of adding another class of food to her food business. It had been majorly, if not all carbohydrates. Rice(rice and stew, jollof rice, fried rice. Rice na rice, all of them na rice), Irish potatoes, sweet potatoes, white yam and egg sauce, spaghetti but no beans, which is protein.
On this fateful day, Mama Aki decided to answer our long awaited prayers and made beans- porridge beans. As soon as I steeped in, she called me in her characteristic way.
“Samson and Delilah, I make beans o”
“Serious?”, I asked surprised. Some of my guys there, fellow members of team single guys that patronize her like me responded: “See flexing. Guy, the beans get sense. This thing make brain”
And without asking further, I ordered for the beans and also for a bottle of cold Pepsi to wash it down, to enable a safe journey of the beans to its destination- my stomach. The cold Pepsi was needed especially considering the weather too.
As soon as the plate of beans landed on my table, all the smell cells in my nose began to analyze it and soon enough my brain testified that indeed, the beans make brain. All the creatures in my stomach stood at the front line ready to welcome this long awaited guest.
I did a sharp prayer and started business. In few minutes, I was done. I guaged my stomach and got a message to order an extra half plate which I did immediately. By the time, I was through I felt as if a new life was passed into my system.
I gisted with my guys there about the Manchester City’s match watch I had missed the other day, after which I headed home. I got my things ready for the journey, after which I decided to watch some movies and didn’t even know when I slept off.
Around 2AM, I woke up. Something was happening inside of me. My stomach was reacting, speaking in a strange language which would only be answered by visiting the toilet. I succeeded in pushing and pushing but nothing substantial came out.
But this was the beginning of another trouble. When I thought things were getting less intense, my stomach has started having issues. The beans I ate was attacking my system with one bad formation like that.

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